What are the Causes of Period Pain? How to Deal with Period Cramps?
Period pain is a more common occurrence along with irregular periods or, even, heavy bleeding. That said, some specific medical conditions, including pelvic inflammatory disease and endometriosis, could be the reason of period and period pain.
Periods and Pain Causes
Periods occur when a woman’s body sheds its uterine lining once a month. Some degree of pain, cramps, and discomfort during your menstrual cycle is normal. Severe period pain that causes you to skip work or school is not.
Painful menstruation is also known as dysmenorrhea. There are two distinct types of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea occurs in those who experience pain both before and during their menstrual cycle. It is defined as cramping pain in the lower abdomen occurring at the onset of menstruation in the absence of any identifiable pelvic disease.
Period Pain Reasons
It is not possible to always identify the causes of period pain. Some women are merely at a higher risk of experiencing painful periods. Some of these risks are mentioned below:
- Aged 20 or below
- Possessing a family history of painful periods
- Experiencing heavy bleeding during menstruation
- Experiencing irregular periods
- Never having given birth to a baby
- Reaching puberty before the age of 11
Ujaas, a menstrual health and menstrual hygiene initiative by Aditya Birla Education Trust, aims to empower adolescent girls and young women with the right knowledge and tools so that the stigma surrounding menstruation does not get the better out of them.
It is a specific hormone, prostaglandin, which is responsible for the triggering of muscle contractions in your uterus to expel the uterine lining. These contractions can lead to both inflammation and pain. Prostaglandin levels increase prior to the commencement of menstruation.
It requires clear knowledge to understand the reason rather than making menstruation a stigma.
So, what Causes Period Cramps?
Underlying medical conditions, too, could lead to period cramps. Some of them have been mentioned below:
- Endometriosis: This is quite a painful medical condition wherein cells from the uterine lining grow in other regions of the body, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or tissue of the pelvic lining.
- Fibroids within the Uterus: Fibroids are generally noncancerous tumours that can exert pressure on the uterus or lead to abnormal painful menstruation,
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): This condition is an infection of the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes and is largely caused by sexually transmitted bacteria that result in pain and inflammation of the reproductive organs.
- Adenomyosis: This, too, is a medical condition wherein the lining of the uterus grows into the uterus’s muscular wall, thereby causing pressure, inflammation, and pain. It can also lead to longer or, alternatively, heavier periods.
- Cervical stenosis: This is a rare condition wherein the cervix is too small or narrow that it reduces the menstrual flow, thereby causing an increase of pressure within the uterus and pain.
Now, that you know what causes menstrual cramps we should discuss ways to deal with period pain.
How to Deal with Period Cramps?
Period cramps can be dealt with by making use of home treatments and remedies.
- Making use of a heating pad on your pelvic region or lower back
- Thorough massage of the abdomen
- Taking a warm shower or bath
- Engaging in regular physical activity and exercise
- Eating light, wholesome, nutritious meals
- Practicing meditation, relaxation techniques, or yoga
- Intaking anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) several days prior to the date of your period, after consulting your doctor.
- Intake of vitamins as well as supplements such as vitamin E, vitamin B-1, vitamin B-6, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and calcium
- Sitting with raised legs or lying with bent knees
- Reducing the intake of sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol
These home remedies throw more light on how to deal with period pain.
When to Seek Medical Help?
If you do not know how to deal with period pain or if it is causing interference with your ability to conduct basic tasks every month, you may need to seek the services of a gynaecologist.
Speak to your doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing, especially if they happen to be one or more of the following:
- Continual pain after intra-uterine device (IUD) placement
- A minimum of three painful menstrual cycles
- Passing of blood clots
- Cramping that is accompanied by diarrhoea and nausea
- Pelvic pain while not menstruating
Sudden cramping or pain in the pelvic region could be a sign of infection. An untreated infection could scar the tissue that damages the pelvic organs, thereby leading to infertility. Now, you know the reason for stomach pain during periods.
However, if you experience the following symptoms of an infection, you must seek immediate medical intervention:
- Extreme pelvic pain
- Sudden, abrupt pain, especially if you may be pregnant
- Vaginal discharge that is foul-smelling
If home remedies do not offer relief from period pain, you need to seek medical treatment.
Treatment will typically depend on both the severity and underlying cause of the pain. If PID or STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are the cause behind the pain, your doctor may prescribe certain antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
Some medications that may be prescribed by your doctor include:
- NSAIDS or Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs : These drugs can be obtained over the counter. For prescription-strength NSAIDS, you need to consult your doctor.
- Pain Relievers: The most common is acetaminophen.
- Antidepressants: These are prescribed sometimes to help in lessening some of the mood swings that are associated with PMS.
While a certain degree of pain and discomfort during your period is completely normal, pain that poses a hindrance to your life or daily activities is certainly not normal. That said, effective treatment is out there in the form of both medications and home remedies.